Communicating in Teams and Organizations – Bar B-Q Plaza

This report is intended to identify a real case of an organization’s communication process. We conducted a live interview with the The Barbecue Plaza (M) Sdn Bhd. in order to obtain the fullest information and to support our report relevancy. We have successfully identified the case clearly as well as the theories related to the case. Besides, we have also systematically analyzed the situation and provide relevant recommendations and solutions. The content of our analysis is as below: |2. 1 |Background of the company | |2. |Communication Channels | |2. 3 |Emotional Labor | |2. 4 |The Model of Communication | |2. 5 |Communication Barriers | |2. 6 |Workplace Design | |3. 0 |Recommendations | 2. 0 Analysis 2. 1 Bar B-Q Plaza Company Background Bar B-Q Plaza is a self-cooking Mongolian and Japanese style barbeque restaurant. Customers can experience self-grilling. With such cooking experience makes dining at Bar B-Q Plaza more enjoyable.

Besides that, the meal is also accompanied by specially prepared sauce, which tastes just right for grilled food. Bar B-Q Plaza was established in 1987 by Mr. Choopong, who applied the Japanese style barbecue at his restaurant in Thailand. Its famous unique grilling experience added by outstanding delicious taste coupled with high-quality meats and vegetables allowed Bar B-Q Plaza to become increasingly popular and thus allowing the expansion of its branches. Internationally, Bar B-Q Plaza established its presence in Malaysia through a oint venture in 2005, with a local Malaysian company namely W. A Food Holdings Sdn. Bhd. The Bar B-Q Plaza (Malaysia) was formed and aims to provide the same wonderful grilling experience with high-quality meat and vegetables to Malaysians. The branches are located at 1Utama Shopping Centre, Sunway Pyramid Shopping centre, AEON Bukit Tinggi Shopping Centre and Berjaya Times Square. As of today, Bar B-Q Plaza is the biggest restaurant in barbecue and grilling category and is considered the third biggest casual dining restaurant in Thailand.

Furthermore, it is ranked in the top ten chain restaurants, compared to both local and international brands. Since its start with only 30 employees, Bar B-Q Plaza has developed its management to respond, in a timely manner, to the future business expansion. The management is also well prepared for active competition in the market. For the present organization structure, each branch is supervised by its Branch Manager, while District Manager and General Manager supervise all of them at the upper levels respectively.

Finally, at Bar B-Q Plaza have a mascot name BB Gon. He is a cute cheerful dragon. He likes delicious food and can eat much food at a time. BB Gon is a symbol of delicious taste of Bar B-Q Plaza food. 2. 2 Communication channel in BBQ Plaza All Bar B-Q Plaza branches manager will have twice a month of meeting with head quarter. In this time, they can point out and share the problems they have faced during services. Also, they will discuss with all managers in how to improve the services, handling troublesome customers, and arranging or allocating employees.

This exchange information implement only twice a month, so they need to gather the information and share during meeting. It is considered not efficient in media richness, due to the time of information, all the information are outdated cases, and the feedback is obtained after the case had happened. Besides that, there is a formal forum for head quarter and branches manager to communicate only twice a month, since they have no E-mail and instant messaging to communicate. Another channel in communication from Bar B-Q Plaza is through a medium to ransmit the information from sender and receiver. Choose the right communication channel richness may reduce the misunderstanding, and increase the efficiency. Under communication channels, we can divide into two types of channels which are verbal and nonverbal. Verbal communication uses words either spoken or written channels. Nonverbal communication is the part of communication that does not use words, perhaps facial gestures, voice intonation, physical distance, body language and even silence. In Bar B-Q Plaza, communication channels are very crucial, no matter in verbal or nonverbal.

As we know, Bar B-Q Plaza is a food restaurant which most of the time need to faces and deal with customer. Example: take order from customer, handle with the wrong ordered, introduce new menu to customer and receive payment from customer. The communication among employee to employee, manager to employee or opposed, are critical, poor communication channel may cause wrong interpretation and feedback. Besides the verbal communication, employees of Bar B-Q Plaza must also understand the nonverbal signals.

Nonverbal communication is less rule-bound, it stand a wide of indirect means and sometimes cause us misinterpreted. Example: facial expressions, body gestures, and physical distance. Customer may just give a hand signal to show they wish to make payment or get the attention from waiter. Or manager may just silence in briefing when trend to get employees attention. Following the information by Bar B-Q Plaza branch manager, they have no implement the computer-mediated communication in their communication channels.

It means that they do not use E-mail to contact each other even for head quarter to branch manager. Also, they have no social networking communication like Facebook, instant messaging among employees. What they use for the communication channels are telephone, face to face, memo, fixed meeting schedule and rely on BBQ Plaza appointed driver. 2. 2. 1 Telephone Telephone is the most and common deal with head quarter, branch, and employees. If branch manager face a problem they haven’t deal with, they might direct refer to head quarter for seek the solution via telephone.

For them, telephone is the most quickly, convenient and easy to get the feedback from upper levels. Another example is, employees may take leave from branch manager via the telephone, provided it is informed a day before the leave day. At BBQ Plaza, they will only use telephone as management or business purpose. 2. 2. 2 Face to Face Bar B-Q Plaza manager prefer face to face communication. It is because they communicate faster via reactions and the nonverbal signals from employees. It is useful in the way to solve the problem of odds among employees, making decision, take order, and interpret an idea.

They can assure all of them understand the information spoken out, and if any uncertainty they can ask and provide feedback instantly. It is known that, face to face interaction is the highest media richness, due to its ablity to convey multiple cues, allows timely feedback, customize the message to receiver, and makes use of complex symbols. 2. 2. 3 Memo At BBQ Plaza, there is a notice board to share the information to employees. It is only one way communication. The sender only stick the information to the notice board, and it seem tend to be a fact, employees cannot provide feedback or discussion.

Example: duty roster for every employee, the schedule was set and employees must follow the schedule. If any inconvenience occurred in the day, the employee may need to arrange a time to inform their manager. Thus it will take a longer time and less effectiveness. 2. 2. 4 Fixed Meeting Schedule There is an appointed driver. Every week BBQ Plaza appointed driver will send the inventories, and foods to every outlet. If any news or announcement from head quarter, any HQ request will require the driver to pass the message to the branches manager or in opposed.

In other words, the message is passed by third party. Such creates inefficiency if the message is of spoken message, due the incorrect or incomplete information passed. Otherwise if the message is in the form of letters or memos, that would not have created much problem. 2. 3 Emotional Labor in Bar B-Q Plaza Emotional Labor is the effort that a worker performs to separate himself from a situation not only to promote an organization’s goal but also as part of his job. He can do it by displaying the emotions that the clients, customers, co-workers and subordinates expected.

Emotional Labor is partly verbal and partly nonverbal. The nonverbal communication is just an important part of emotional labor. Emotional Labor is not as automatic and non-conscious as other nonverbal communications but it is undeniably one of the most important one. Emotional Labor varies depending on the degree of the jobs that require face-to-face contact with public. It is higher in the service area than in the manufacturing area. There are two forms of emotional labor; “surface acting” which involves faking an emotion displayed without actually feeling it.

The second one is the “deep acting” wherein they modify their inner feelings to match the emotions that the organization expected. Although both are fakes, they do have different intentions. It is impossible to determine the real emotion of an “Emotional Labor Expert”. In Bar B-Q Plaza, there are four types of Emotional Labor involved. It is as follows: a) Boss to Subordinates – The manager prefers the friendly style approach rather than the autocratic style when working in Bar B-Q Plaza. She believes that this approach is better for everyone.

Thus the manager is always seen smiling and friendly to her employees. She will try to be patient when guiding her employees in the morning-briefings. Even after her employees made a mistake, she will maintain a calm but not intimidating look when reprimanding her employees. She believes that this can motivate the employees and encourage them to perform better rather than scolding them. b) Subordinates to Boss – The employees will try to keep a good impression on their manager either to keep their job or to reply the friendliness shown to them by the manager.

They will always be friendly because one of the unwritten rules in Bar B-Q Plaza is to avoid conflicts. Sometimes the employees will just nod their head depicting that they understand while they actually don’t. They use the emotional labor to lie to their manager because they fear that the manager will get angry at them for not understanding their task and also to keep their job. They will then try to act accordingly when the problem arises. c) Boss to Boss – The manager always keep a contact with people from the head quarter.

The head quarter will send some inspector to inspect the working condition, environment and operations from the franchises to make sure that they are the same and in accordance to the rules. The manager has to maintain a professional look when doing business even with the added pressure from the presence of the inspector. She must act calm on at all times so as to not let the pressure show through. Not only did she need to keep this facade for the inspector, she also needs to keep it while on the phone as well because nervousness may show through the intonation and clarity of her voice. ) Boss/Subordinates to Customers – This is perhaps where most people in BBQ Plaza will employ the surface acting. Just going by great and delicious foods will only get one so far, but to truly rise to the top, good services are equally important. A customer may not choose to dine because of good service, but a customer will definitely wouldn’t even consider dining in Bar B-Q Plaza if the employees are all looking sulky and furious. Both the employees and manager must not show their irritation and anger when serving customers. Example, the waitress must give the same and thorough answers to the 100th customers as did to the 1st customer.

This is because the 100th customer is clueless and he doesn’t care whether the waitress has answered the same question for 99 times already that day. This is a part of the waitress’ job. She must try to separate herself emotionally from the situation and try to look at the situation from the customers’ point of view. Bar B-Q Plaza is a restaurant offering services to customers and thus it is bound to apply the Emotional Labor in the everyday business operation. It is encouraged that the employees really feel empathy with each other and to the customers. Emotional Labor only comes in as a substitution if empathy didn’t work.

Judging by the difficulty to measure whether the emotions shown are real or fake, one can only assume that emotional labor exists in all kind of organizations and not only just in Bar B-Q Plaza. 2. 4 A Model of Communication in Bar B-Q Plaza Restaurant [pic] Figure 1: The Communication Process Model The communication process model figured as above indicates how effective an organization in their communications relies on the ability of the sender as well as the receiver to efficiently and accurately encode and decode the information, even with the presence of noise. 2. 4. The Encoding & Decoding Process In Bar B-Q Plaza, there are various communication levels involved. 1. Communication within Organization a) Top management with employees b) Waiter/Waitress with Office staffs c) Office staffs with Checkers c) Checker with Kitchen staffs d) Kitchen staffs with waiter/waitress through bell ringing 2. Communication of Organization with Customers a) Waiter/Waitress with customers b) Cashiers with customers c) Top management with customers However, we just focus on the particular communications only to analyze the encoding and the decoding process as per below.

Table 1: The Encoding and Decoding Process in Bar B-Q Plaza |Type of Communication Agenda : Meeting/Briefings | |Sender |Sender ‘s Process |Receiver |Receiver’s Process | |Manager/ |Brief on duty rosters, work tasks, or particular |Chefs, Checkers, |Listen and understand the messages by | |Supervisor |events and responsibilities. Cashiers, Waiter/ |manager/supervisor. | | | |Waitress, | | | |Confirm employees understand. |cleaners |Provide feedback by agreeing with some nodding | | | | |head or affirmative words | Type of Communication Agenda : Food Ordering | |Sender |Sender ‘s Process |Receiver |Receiver’s Process | |Manager/ Brief on duty rosters, work tasks, or particular |Chefs, Checkers, |Listen and understand the messages by | |Supervisor |events and responsibilities. |Cashiers, Waiter/ |manager/supervisor. | | | |Waitress, | | | |Confirm employees understand. cleaners |Provide feedback by agreeing with some nodding | | | | |head or affirmative words | |Customer |Customer would place and order |Waiter/ |Waiter will listen carefully and jot down | | | |Waitress |customer’s order. | |Customer confirms the order by saying “yes” or | | | | |nodding head. | |In order to assure the right message, waiter | | | | |provides feedback to customer by repeating the | | | | |order to seek confirmation. |Waiter/ |Waiter/Waitress will then pass noted order to office |Office Staff |Office staff will key in the order through | |Waitress |people to key in the order to the Order System. | |Order System. | | | | | | |Once order has been key in, waiter can return to | |Once, keyed in, office staff note | | |workplace | |waiter/waitress to return to workplace | |Office Staff |Office staffs will key keyed in the order through |Checker |Checker will check the order from the Order | | |Order System. |System. Once order taken, confirmation through | | | | |Order System will be done. | | | | | |Checker |Checker will then translate the order made to |Kitchen staffs |Kitchen staffs will be notified and provide | | |respective kitchen staffs | |feedback by nodding head or thumbs up to show | | | | |he understands. | |After kitchen staffs have been notified, checker | | | | |continues checking for the following incoming orders. | | | |Kitchen staffs |Once chef has finished cooking, kitchen staffs will |Waiter/ |Being aware of the ringing bell, waiter will | | |place the cooked meal to the kitchen counter .

Kitchen|Waitress |then take the cooked meal and deliver meal to | | |staffs will ring the bell to notify waiter/waitress. | |respective customers. | |Waiter/ |Notify customer, that food is ready to be served. |Customer |Once order is received, customer provides | |Waitress | | |feedback by nodding head or saying “thank you”. | |Waiter/Waitress will provide feedback as “welcome” | | | |Customer |Customer will prompt for payment. |Cashier |Cashier provides the receipt to customers. | | | | | | | |Customers make payment. | | | Type of Communication Agenda : Customer Complaints | |Sender |Sender ‘s Process |Receiver |Receiver’s Process | |Customer |If there are any complaints, customer will raise hand|Waitress |Waiter/Waitress will take note of the complain,| | |and calls for waiter and complain. |and assure the customers that management will | | | | |take action upon the problem. | |Waiter/ |Waiter will notify manager/supervisor immediately |Manager/ |Manager/supervisor is informed and understand | |Waitress |regarding customer complaints. |supervisor |the situation. | |Manager/ |Manager/supervisor will make apologies and explain |Customer |Upon hearing the explanation, customers will | |supervisor |the situation to customers. |understand the situation and further make | | | | |suggestions. | 2. 4. 2 The Influences on Effective Encoding and Decoding Process In fact, the measurement of how well the communications of encoding and decoding process in Bar B-Q Plaza depends much on these four factors of influences. First factor indicates that the sender and receiver have the abilities and motivation to communicate through the communication channel.

Likewise, face-to-face communication is preferred when handling customers. Yet some other employees like Bar B-Q Plaza chefs are awkward in conversations, as most of them are foreign cook and due to language difficulties, they are quite good in codebook or gestures in fact. Second factor, indicates that the sender and receiver have similar “codebook”. Here codebook refers to the symbols, gestures, affirmative words such as “yosh”, ”okay” are widely used in this organization.

With such similar codebook, they both have same similar meanings and thus this improves the communication efficiency. Third factor indicates that both sender and receiver have shared mental models about the topic’s context. Here, means both sender and receiver have a common understanding of the environment relating to the information. Example, since Bar B-Q Plaza has different chefs of different race, though they have excellent knowledge in cooking, sometimes they experience poor communication because of language differences.

The forth factor indicates that sender’s experience at communicating the message. Such, reflects some people who are more proficient at suing the codebook symbols to convey the message. The most common type of ways of conveying a message such that a person understands is by “nodding head”. In BBQ Plaza, most of the employees they convey that they understand the message by nodding head and these apply to the customers as well. 2. 5 Communication barriers In the case of Bar B-Q Plaza, culture diversity seems to be the main communication problem.

At the front office, all the workers are Chinese and the medium of communication is Mandarin. There is a big contrast at the back office, which is the back kitchen, that all of the workers are Burmese. The medium they used to communicate is Burmese language. The language differences between the front office and back office represent the source of communication noise in the organization. According to the Manager Mun Mun, the Burmese workers will pick up some Malay language and English before they come to Malaysia.

Most of the time, the local workers will use either one of the above language to communicate with the kitchen workers. However, problem occurred when the local workers would like to talk to the Burmese workers. For instance, when customers have special request on the drink, local worker has difficulty to tell the Burmese worker in details about the customer’s request. The solution is that there is a worker in the kitchen which is also called as the Checker is a Burmese and because he has been staying in the company for a long time so he is able to communicate fluently in English.

Many times when the manager or the waiter wanted to communicate with the kitchen workers, Checker will be their translator to translate their message to the person in charge. Checker is playing an important role in the communication process between the local workers and the Burmese workers. If the Checker has different understanding from the local worker of what he or she wants to deliver, the Burmese workers will receive the wrong message. The language differences between the front office and back office represent the source of communication noise in the organization.

Language is the most obvious cross-cultural communication challenge. With that, manager will try to assign Burmese workers with works that do not involve order taking. This is because Burmese workers have different accent and also limited vocabulary in words that the manager is worried that the customers are unable to communicate with the Burmese workers. And another concern is that words are easily misunderstood, the manager is worried that the Burmese workers might take wrong order which will then caused customers dissatisfaction and many other internal problem for the kitchen as well.

Those are the reasons the manager will assign works that has low involvement with customers for Burmese workers. Most of them will be in the kitchen, the bar and part of them will in charge of cleaning the tables. Generally front office workers and the back kitchen workers do not social and catch up with each other as they do not have a medium to communicate and build their relationship. But however, they do have a very happy and joyful working place. As they respect each other and speak in a proper tone whenever there is a problem occurred.

As Mun Mun the manager told us, if there is complaint from customers she will not blame or shout at the workers instead she will be advice them with a nice and proper tone. In the perspective of the manager, she thinks that she does not see any communication differences in her male workers and female workers. This could be the work process is fixed and not many communication required in the working process. Comparing this to a customer service department, it would have a big contrast between how male worker and female worker handle customers’ complaint.

In short, the only communication barrier that Bar B-Q Plaza has is cross-cultural difference where all the workers in the kitchen are Burmese and the waiter and waitress are all Chinese. Limited vocabularies or influent in English and Malay language of the Burmese workers is the obstacle that makes the communication process difficult between workers. 2. 6 Workplace Design in Bar B-Q Plaza Restaurant As the name of the business is a food service, the workplace design in restaurant from serving area to back kitchen is the important key point in communication.

Good workplace design will create staff satisfaction, motivation and productivity while poor workplace design is linked to a lower performance and higher level of stress experienced by the employees. Through the observation in the restaurant, the group noticed that Bar B-Q Plaza Restaurant having a high efficiency in communication where the back kitchen and serving area have a very good co-operation and lead the flow where the food can be delivered to the customer in short time (quickly in filling customer’s order) and precise.

In other words, the customer able to have their food and drinks as per ordered without any mistakes. The flow of working starts when the customer get into the restaurant, staff at reception desk, located at the front of main entrance will serve them and allocate them to table by refer to the number of diner. Once the customer is seated, server on the section should be by the table as soon as possible, making sure that everyone has their menu.

As a good server should know how to position themselves and always keep an eye to their section, as the customer appear ready to order (normally non-verbal: wave hand, raise hand), server need to make sure the order is correct and send the order chip to small office. Branch manager in small office enter the order into computer system to inform back kitchen. Again, this section does not require the branch manager to step into back kitchen; shorten their walk and time spent going into kitchen and communicate using computer system which high accuracy.

This had increase the efficiency in communication, shorten work flow time and indirectly improve the image of the restaurant by server provide a very good customer’s service. Once the order was confirmed, the checker in the back kitchen may receive the printed order in full name of the food and drinks as per menu. The checker is to assign the job by referring to the printed order, every section in the kitchen area will alert on what they had to prepare which is their routine job. Once the food and drinks is ready, the particular section will send the ood or beverages to checker’s working area, the checker will confirm it again before to ring the bell once to notify the front desk. The waiter or waitress is responsible to pick up the food through the window and serve it to the appointed customer’s table with the printed order. From the above explanation, the open-area arrangement (food pick-up window) able to generate the interaction; improve the communication for better understanding between back kitchen and front serving area.

The design of the food pick-up window had shorten the walk and time serving between the checker and server as sometime the long way walking from serving area to kitchen is make the server feel tired. Refer to layout in the serving area, the dinner set preparation; condiment and sauce preparation area is located near at the serving areas which increase the staff productivity when there are customer request for extra silverware, extra cup, or plate of condiment and sauce, server could respond and deliver it to the customer as quickly as possible.

The well designed workplace in the restaurant had increased the staff productivity; smoothing the communication process for every party (i. e. receptionist, diner, server branch manager, checker, chef for particular section) that involved; demonstrating a good customer’s service and encourages the interaction and teamwork for employees in serving area and back kitchen. Figure 2: Layout of Back Kitchen for Bar B-Q Plaza Restaurant Figure 3: Layout of Serving Area for Bar B-Q Plaza Restaurant 3. Recommendation to improve communication for BBQ Plaza Restaurant After reviewing the whole communication flow process for the restaurant, the group had discussed some suggestion which able to improve the communication between the staff among themselves and the outlet branch of restaurant with the HQ – The Barbecue Plaza (M) Sdn Bhd. 1. Contact through e-mail In this age of electronic of communication, the group recommended the organization should implement social network communication where using e-mail as the tools for communication.

Every branch manager should be entitled a company e-mail address, where if HQ had any updated news and memorandum can be send to branch manager on time through e-mail, for example, during the interview section, branch manager mentioned that any official memo will only be received weekly ,where it will be delivered on hand by the appointed driver. This may shorten the communication distance gap between HQ and branch outlet where any updated promotion plan, memorandum, announcement or company news can be deliver in more clarity, rapid distribution, time-saving, and paperless way. 2. Monthly “Burma Day” or Potluck

The restaurant can hold a monthly “Burma Day” or Potluck where it is required that the Burmese chefs, to prepare some tradition Burmese food or the food as per menu by using the existing ingredients in kitchen. This allows the gathering for the employees from serving area, back kitchen and branch manager having dinner time together to improve the relationship and communication among themselves. These suggestions not only able to allow the employees communicate well and get to know each other individually and it also allows them to taste the food where the restaurant trying to sell.

Through such experience, allows the waiter or waitress to give good recommendations when serving customers. This increase of interaction will have big pay off. 3. 3 English Training programme for Burmese staff to improve communication. Organization has been suggested to develop a language training programme for new hires and existing staff for the Burmese employees. As Burmese employees know how to speak and listen English, they able to help other servers who work in serving area to take order from customer when the restaurant is having its peak hours. Besides that, the communication between the local

Malaysia employees and Burmese chef can be improved , if both parties are able to communicate in English. 5. 0 Conclusion After performing Communication process analysis, we conclude that BBQ Plaza indeed has an average communication process. In which, the information in the organization is transmitted and understood among the employees. We can judge their good understanding level based on either their verbal or nonverbal communication, as both the sender and receiver can understand what they are trying to convey or say in the quickest way, though there may be some barriers in between.

It is known that each employee has their own differences in cultures, but that doesn’t lag their interest in performing their best in their work. They still can perform well and have active listening in terms of sensing, evaluating as well as responding. In fact, there are some recommendations and suggestions to help BBQ Plaza, further enhance or improve their ways of communicating in the future.

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